Last week, Celestial ISP OneWeb confirmed the successful launch of its latest batch of 36 satellites from a Soyuz launch vehicle.
This brings the total in-orbit constellation to 110 satellites. The launch will put OneWeb on track to offer global services to customers starting with the U.K. in 2021 with global service following in 2022.
“It’s inspiring to be part of a fast-returning organisation refocused on our mission of bringing connectivity to everyone, everywhere," said OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson, "Each launch moves us closer to our goal of building this much needed global, secure, trusted, enterprise-grade broadband network, powered from space. We look forward to offering our commercial services to global users."
All 36 Soyuz launch vehicle satellites were launched from the Vostochny Cosmodrome. Lift-off happened at 12:26 GMT on 18 December. The total 110 satellites bring OneWeb closer to its target of 648 Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites.
OneWeb is a global space-enabled communications network, based in London, facilitating government, enterprise and community connectivity. It implements a constellation of low earth orbit satellites with a global portal network and a variety of consumer terminals to provide a low latency, accessible, high capacity and networking infrastructure built for IoT and soon satellite-based 5G.
According to older press releases, the company describes its key objectives for internet service as follows:
Extremely low latency with an average of 32 milliseconds;
Seamless beam and satellite handovers;
Accurate antenna pointing and tracking;
Live streamed video at resolutions up to 1080p (Full HD); and
Test speed rates of more than 400 Mbps.
The success of the launch sets OneWeb on path for its 2021 target, for a global operation after 2022, to provide global services to customers from the United Kingdom, Alaska, Northerner Europe, Greenland, Iceland, the Artic Seas and Canada.
“Today’s launch is one of many steps we have taken to operationalise one of the world’s first LEO constellations which clearly demonstrates we are on our way to achieving our mission. Overall, there is an overwhelming demand for broadband and the pandemic has taxed infrastructure everywhere and many people worldwide are left with little to no options to access the internet. OneWeb’s system will help meet existing and future demand by delivering broadband connectivity to communities, towns, and regions left unconnected or under-connected.” said Sunil Bharti Mittal, Founder and Chairman of Bharti Enterprises.
OneWeb's services will improve in later satellite launches. The network's initial 650 satellites will eventually expand to 1,980 satellites, according to the company. This first phase of the constellation will have worldwide coverage.